This is by far the most commonly asked question we get at IAN. Many of you remember the days when an average wait for an infant was around six months, and it was not uncommon for several babies to be referred every month.
So what has changed?
Changes in the way the Ethiopian government over the last several months has lengthened all aspects of the process. It takes longer for all of the paperwork to be completed and for children to be cleared for adoption. This is hard on waiting parents, but it is a very good sign for the commitment being shown to continuing adoptions in the most ethical way possible.
Another change is that Ethiopia has become one of the most popular programs for international adoption. This means there has been an increase in families applying to adopt, and an increase in agencies working in Ethiopia. More people on the list means a longer wait. Every other agency we network with is experiencing the same things: lots of older kids and very few infants. This includes US agencies and others worldwide.
What is IAN doing?
IAN has been regularly sending US staff to Ethiopia to work on increasing the number of orphanages we work with, without distracting our Ethiopian staff from their regular duties. Executive director Joan Struass made one trip in the spring, Tomas Bayou has been in Ethiopia for the last several weeks, and Joan will go again next week. This year we've already added two orphanages to our network, and we hope to add three more by year end. While we can't control when babies become available, we can do everything in our power to increase the odds.
What is the Good News?
In 2009, IAN referred 35 children under a year old to their families, along with 43 children older than a year. In 2010, we have referred about 17 children under age one so far, and 55 children older than one. The number of infants is indeed lower, but not the overall totals. We anticipate more referrals in the remaining weeks of 2010.
As you know, the world of International Adoption is unpredictable and ever changing, but IAN is committed to doing everything possible to unite families and children.